I find that as I get older, I like to re-watch my favorite movies - nostalgia probably being the main reason, but also because my memory is deteriorating with age... (yes, I admit it!)
I watched The Pianist when it first came out on DVD in 2003, and haven't watched it again since. I finally got the chance to see it again when Jo got this for me for my birthday.
Now, a good 6, 7 years has passed, and this movie is still incredibly moving and remains one of my all-time favorites.
And now, a good 70 years has passed since the devastating holocaust has passed, and the film portrayal of this horrifying event remains as true and disturbing as when it first happened.
It's always hard for me to explain what I feel when I'm watching these kind of film footage;knowing that while this is a reenaction of the actual events and grasping the fact that all of this degradation of humanity actually took place.
There are several scenes in this film that make me cringe in my seat, and I can't help but feel ashamed of what we as human beings are capable of doing to each other. The instance where a group of Nazi solders stormed into a building, into a room filled with a family gathered around a dinner table - and the soldiers ordering all of them to stand up - and when a wheelchair-bound man was unable to do so, they lifted the wheelchair and mercilessly threw him over the balcony. Or when a young boy who returned from the outside fences that imprisons the Polish-Jews from the rest of the city - he was crawling through a tiny hole in the fence, when a soldier from the outside discovered his escape and beat him to death as Szpilman, the pianist tries to pull him back in. When he finally managed to pull the boy back to the other side of the fence, the boy is already breathless and Szpilman struggles to walk away, staggering in his path, as he is trying to grasp what had just happened.
I'd like to think that most of us, if we were to witness similar scenes in real life, we would have more or less the same shocked, dumfounded reaction. So what of those who commit the crime, those whose very hands executed the unimaginable torture unto others? What of the Nazi soldiers, the groups who committed the Rwanda genocide? The terrorists who so easily triggers a bomb that wipes out the lives of dozens, even hundreds, right before their eyes?
I'd like to think that the difference between those who can live with these inhumane acts and those who can't is their differing view on the value of human life. While religious values, cultural upbringing and other factors play major roles in forming a person's morals and subsequent actions, I do believe that when we stop believing in the value of life, it's easier to succumb to the darker side of things, where greed, cruelty and other deplorable human traits are reared by our indifference to others' plight and sufferings.
When we recognize that the life of the person standing beside us is just as significant as ours - they are or once was a son, daughter, brother, sister to someone - they are all appreciated, respected, needed and loved by someone. At the end of the day, isn't 'what we mean to each other' the defining trait of our humanity? I remember from one of my church pastor's sermon - the two things we can bring into eternity life with God is our relationship with Him, and our relationship with one another.
I really like how William Shakespeare's quote from Merchant of Venice is incorporated into the movie The Pianist. When confined in the ghetto with his family, Szpilman asks his brother what he was reading, his brother read this passage out loud:
“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that”
And at the end of the day, it's this very commandment that makes sense of our lives:
''You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment.39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. '' Matthew 22:37-39